Manchin rebuffs Dem effort to delay Kavanaugh confirmation hearings

BY JORDAIN CARNEY - 08/22/18 05:33 PM EDT

© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is breaking with calls from party leadership to delay Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in the wake of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.

Asked about calls on Wednesday from his Democratic colleagues, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), to delay Kavanaugh's hearings, Manchin interjected “that’s not right.”

“We do our job. Let’s do our job. ... Delaying is not going to help anything,” he said.

Manchin noted that Democratic leaders had not looped him in on the strategy that was announced earlier on Wednesday, a day after Cohen pleaded guilty to tax and bank fraud and campaign finance violations in federal court in New York.
“I have no clue. No one has discussed this with me at all. They know my feelings on this, you know? We’ve got a nominee that the president has put forward. We have an advise and consent job,” Manchin told reporters.

Manchin, who is running for reelection this year in a state won by President Trump in 2016, has not said how he will vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. The West Virginia lawmaker was among three Senate Democrats who voted to confirm Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, last year.

His comments Wednesday came as Senate Democrats seized on news of Cohen's guilty plea from the previous day to try to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, which have been planned to start on Sept. 4.

Lawmakers noted that Cohen implicated President Trump when entering his guilty plea this week, saying the president directed him during the 2016 election to pay a pair of women who have claimed to have had affairs with Trump in 2006.
Trump slammed Cohen's decision to enter the guilty plea on Wednesday while falsely claiming in a Fox News interview that hush money payments arranged by Cohen did not break the law.

Republicans have dismissed Democrats' efforts to delay the confirmation hearings over the plea.

"Calls to delay the hearing are just the latest tactic from opponents who decided to vote 'no' weeks ago, frantically looking for anything that sticks. The hearing will begin as planned on September 4," said George Hartman, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley(R-Iowa).